In order for any business to succeed, it must have enough customers to buy the product or service offered. Before you launch your new business, take time to evaluate your potential customer base. Figure out whom you expect to be your most likely customers -- in other words, your target customers. Then tailor your marketing efforts, as well as your products and services, to those customers.
Many small businesses shy away from using primary market research (gathering information from potential customers regarding their views of a product or competitor) because they think it's too difficult. But primary market research should not be overlooked as a marketing tool. You can tackle primary research relatively easily and inexpensively -- and can get valuable information directly from your target customers.
Building a business image is a reflection of what you do and how you do it. Though many people think placing ads is the best way to let the world know about their business, advertising is actually one of the most expensive and least effective forms of marketing. Running a first-rate business, and letting people know about it through a good referral network, is often the best way to get new customers.
The best and most cost-effective form of marketing is word-of-mouth. If new business comes by referral, then you already have a marketing team in action: your customers. If you aren't getting new customers, you'll want to implement a more proactive marketing plan, but remember that there are no one-size-fits-all rules when it comes to marketing.
For most businesses, listings are essential -- particularly for businesses that people use primarily in an emergency (for example, a drain cleaning service, a plumber, or a locksmith). Many merchants find a local business directory listing produces good results for a small investment.
Advertising is regulated by both federal and state law. Your ad will be unlawful if it tends to mislead or deceive. If your ad is deceptive or contains a false statement, you'll face legal problems even if you have the best intentions in the world. Learn the rules to keep your ads within safe, legal limits.
Spam is any message that you send electronically to people who have not specifically requested mail from you -- in other words, junk email. While sending spam may result in a sale or two in the short run, it will almost surely damage your reputation, so it's good advice to stay clear of it. There are many better ways to use email to keep in touch with current and potential customers. Here are a few of them.